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April 2nd, 2010
07:36 AM ET

What do you say to your kids about bullying?

We’ve seen several stories making headlines lately of young kids taking their own lives because of bullying. Most recently we’ve telling you about the death of 15-year-old Phoebe Prince in South Hadley, Massachusetts. She was pretty, smart and relatively new to the school. She was bullied relentlessly in the hallways and online and then she eventually hanged herself.

These “bullycides” seems to be a growing problem that parents and schools have to deal with. We'll talk to a bullying expert at 10 am.

But we also want to know: What do you say to your kids about bullying?

Share your thoughts and we’ll read some of your responses during the 10 o’clock hour of CNN Newsroom.

Filed under: Kyra Phillips
soundoff (87 Responses)
  1. Alex Lotoski

    What a question? What do you say to your kids? There is really a simple answer to this. It is, "Don't do it." What part of that three word statement is not understandable? Also, as a parent enforce it. If, as a parent you cannot enforce it, obtain training to be able to do this. For those that are being bullied, learn how to fight back, both parents and the bullied one(s).

    April 2, 2010 at 7:50 am |
  2. Chris

    In my day, parents handled the problem. Schools never got involved, because the parents took action in a timely manner. Either you and the bully duked it out, or the parents got into it. In extreme situations, the cops were called by the parents.

    When I got involved in a fight OFF the school property, I was called into the Principals office and my dad had to come pick me up. Since I didn't start the fight, it wasn't a problem and my Dad was secretly happy that I stood my ground, but admonished me for not walking away from the antagonist. But the difference in response by the school faculty then and what is happening now is apparent.

    Parents are not doing their job these days. They delegated their responsibility to teachers during the day and abrogated their parenting at night to computers.

    April 2, 2010 at 7:52 am |
  3. Alex Lotoski

    How to find a bullying expert? Go to your local street gang leaders other than the "groupies" at the school. There are several bullying advisors who have never been on the street for the real thing.

    April 2, 2010 at 7:53 am |
  4. Rick

    No one seems to be bringing up the idea of talking to your kids about suicide. The kids need to know how final suicide is! What it does to your loved ones. The bullies will be there long after school is gone. The kids need to be taught how to ignore the creeps in life and to be aware of what a human life is worth! The more you become "friends" with your kids the better chance of them opening up with their problems! If a child doesn't know the difference between the pain of being bullied and the pain of loosing a loved one to suicide than the child hasn't been properly educated!!!

    April 2, 2010 at 8:22 am |
  5. Butch Jordan

    You tell your children to treat others as they would like to be treated. You tell them to be kind and respectful of others at all times. Then you the parent must teach by example. You must be respectful of others. You the parent must be kind at all times. Children learn by example. They mirror the conduct of the parents because, it's what they see and believe to be valid in life.

    April 2, 2010 at 8:31 am |
  6. Dan

    Respect others, hands to yourself. Enough said.
    Happy Good Friday, and I want to wish all viewers a Happy Easter. He has risen (over 2,000 yrs ago).

    April 2, 2010 at 8:33 am |
  7. Wendy J

    Two boys that were 8 bullied my daughter when she was only 7. They intimidated her in school and in the neighborhood where she rode her bike with friends.
    When she told us about it ,we as a family, talked about how it was wrong and how potentially devastating it was to have this happen to you and how to handle it. We gave her a voice and she said she wanted to go to the principal and handle it. She went to the school and told them what happened and they stood behind her and followed up with the parents and the 2 boys. They never bullied anyone again and they learned a valuable lesson.
    Now our daughter is a teenager and is a public voice for others who face the same issue. It has given her new found strength and skills and she uses those in many areas of life now.

    April 2, 2010 at 8:53 am |
  8. joyce

    Parents need to sit down with their children and explain that they need to respect one another at school, that also includes teachers, and any other staff. Kids need to respect their own peers. Children learn from the parents. Parents need to be the best example.

    April 2, 2010 at 9:05 am |
  9. Tom

    Why is it that you put stories up like this which are so one-sided? It's as if you are implying that the only adult influences in a child's life are from school? What about the parents? That boy didn't get a gun from school. And teachers and administrators do a lot about bullying. Sure, it seems as if some students fall through the cracks, but how about putting some funding for public schools so each teacher doesn't have 30 students to a class. Perhaps then more students would get better attention? Why would you be so irresponsible as to put forward a story like this which is clearly inflammatory against a strained school system?

    April 2, 2010 at 9:14 am |
  10. Rachel

    Why aren't we speaking to our kids about suicide?

    April 2, 2010 at 9:14 am |
  11. Keasha

    I don't have children yet but if I do have children in the future I would tell them that "sticks and stones may break my bones but mean words can kill me"

    April 2, 2010 at 9:14 am |
  12. Mo

    Kyra, did someone really bully you? Just tell me where they are...

    April 2, 2010 at 9:16 am |
  13. Stephen Norman


    I have been listening to your spots on bullying with additional interest due to a case I recently filed against a school district, principals, teachers, and school assigned police officer. The case actually is about Bullying by teachers and the helplessness and despair a student experiences when the system fails him. The complaint alleges false arrest, deprivation of procedural due process, malicious prosecution, and other state counts based on a teacher's false reporting of a crime that was caught on video and the administrations failure to properly investigate the claim. I thought this may give you a different perspective on when a school district really would be culpable.

    April 2, 2010 at 9:18 am |
  14. kelly meinecke

    Last year at my son's grade school, there was as great deal of bullying. When i found out, i went to task, and discovered that maybe the reason the schools aren't doing as much as we want is because of the parents- "Not MY kid" and "Kids will be kids" are phrases i heard frequently, along with seeing rolled eyes and being avoided.

    The daycare center contracted by the school also had many bullying incidents. My son was punched in the stomach for no reason- but no adult saw it. Two days later, he was tied up with kite string. Again, no adult saw it. He was a target because he was standing up for a friend of his who was bullied mercilessly. i brought it to the daycare's attention but got no results until i got the police department involved. i brought it to the attention of our school principal, Anthony Bonds, and we discussed the issues and some viable solutions. Thank goodness he listened.

    i feel that the schools are doing everything that thee parents will allow. We have made them into daycare centers, and it's time we let them do their job. And we as parents need to do ours. Bullying starts at home.

    April 2, 2010 at 9:18 am |
  15. Rebekah Jensen

    I don't know what you say to your kids, but I do know that kids are constantly bombarded with "bullying is ok" messages on the news everyday. From coverage of Tea party events, to shows on FOX News. And the bullies get away with it under Freedom of Speech laws. Until the news and others in authority start refusing to cover or start condemning what is an unacceptable model of behavior for our kids by adults, I suspect the bullying behavior will continue.

    April 2, 2010 at 9:18 am |
  16. Craig Anderson

    When are we going to stop beating around the bush and realize that the violent video games that children are allowed to play have de-sensitized many of them, and have created this monster. These games allow kids to bully, hurt and even kill, and it has led to this state of affairs. Parents need to put an end to allowing their children to play these games. Send the kids outside to play with ther friends and to learn to socialize as they should.

    April 2, 2010 at 9:18 am |
  17. Daniel R. Martin

    Dear Kyra;

    The lady who spoke on your earlier segment is way off base. In my opinion children resort to suicide when they have no foundation of support from family or the community. Parents bear a mjor responsibility in the development of strong foundations in children. But the politicians and society has taken away the responsibility from parents. Thus there is a greate reliance and unfair burdens placed on the schools. When I was a child, many years ago, my parent instilled in me strong moral and spiritual values. We can thank society since the early sixties for turing this over to the political hacks who have been leading our communities. It's time that the courts and authorities go back to holding parent responsible for the actions of their children.

    April 2, 2010 at 9:19 am |
  18. Pete Mills

    I am 69 and had my share of bullying when I was a kid, but the difference between then and now was, back then, the kids that were bullying you one day might be your friend the next day, week or whatever but the kids nowadays have become immune to the feelings of others and are downright mean. I realize it is not Politically
    Correct and I am just an ole fart, but it seems to me that ever since Roe V. Wade was passed, not only did we as a country lose respect for life in general, we also lost much respect for the feelings of others, and that along with parents who also don't care if they hurt others, as long as they can get what they want, this makes for a very dangerous set of circumstances.
    Thank you
    Pete Mills Mt. Gilead, Ohio

    April 2, 2010 at 9:19 am |
  19. Laura

    I am in my forties and I don't have kids - but I will tell you this - when I was growing up my parents taught me never to be mean or discriminate against anyone for any reason. They just had zero tolerance for this and it made me compassionate even as a child and teenager. I was in a popular crowd but I never bullied or was a "mean girl" - and in fact I vividly remember coming to the aid several times of kids who did experience bullying - because my parents taught me that it was just wrong. The schools absolutely have to be vigilant and proactive in doing more, but parents have to OWN this. It is a definite reflection of how they are raising their kids.

    April 2, 2010 at 9:19 am |
  20. Sandy

    My niece was bullied throughout her childhood, because she was short. My sister had to change schools several times to get her away from the girls doing it. My sister went to the school officials but nothing was ever done.
    Then I got a job working on the playground at a local school, frequently when I approached a bully, I would be told by the child, "you can't do a thing to me, don't touch me, or my parents will sue." " I can get you fired". I could not even take them to the principals office, I often had to go get the principal and bring her outside, because they would not cooperate.
    I firmly believe that the problem begins at home, and the parents of these children should be accountable, just as the child.

    April 2, 2010 at 9:20 am |
  21. Rick Morton

    I am a teacher, a dad with four teenaged kids and older, and a former victim of adolescent bullying. It is never easy talking about bullying becase, for the most part, there are as many reasons tht bullying takes place as there are bully's. As much as possible, however, I try to get my kids, and my students, to try to understand why the bullying is taking place and then try not to put yourself in the way of it. Bully's typically require two things. Support, and a trigger. In my classroom we talk about the negative repercussions of supporting the bullies. With my kids I talk about recognizing the triggers. It can be tough to hold your tongue (that was my problem as a teen) but it is typically the best response to taunting. Obviously there should also bea zero tolerance for bullying in schools, and that is not always the case.

    My oldest son was hit in the eye in 8th grade by a pencil thrown by a bully. Five surgeries, and six figures in medical care later he is still legally blind in his left eye. Bullying struck our lives for several years after that incident and is an important topic in our family. Eliminating it is not likely, but even the incident with my son could have been prevented with more monitoring of students and moree education on the causes and effects.

    April 2, 2010 at 9:21 am |
  22. Colleen

    First of all, you need to lay off the schools about bullies. They should call the parents if a student is caught bullying, but prevention begins at home.

    I would bet that in most cases, the parents themselves are bullies. The kids probably hear them making fun of people they work with and yes, even kids. Or you will hear them say,"Kids will be kids."

    I was bullied my entire life by two of my sisters. It went beyond bullying to mental torture, which is how I personally classify bullying to the extent that a child contemplates suicide. (By the way, they are still bullies, at work and in their personal lives).

    For this reason, I have never allowed bullying of my children to each other, or other children. I asked them if anyone ever said something to them that made them sad, or feel bad about themselves. I told them under no circumstances were they to make a comment about a physical feature of someone since they cannot choose how they look. They were not to make fun of someone for their behavior, as that may be all they know.

    My children knew that of all things they may do, I would punish them for bullying...To my knowledge, they never did. I always hear from others what nice people my now grown kids are.

    April 2, 2010 at 9:22 am |
  23. Hira

    As a mother of a newborn son, all this talk about bullying has made me scared for my son's future. A book called Emotional Intelligence by Danial Goleman talks about how emotions work in human body and how we can learn to deal with them better. I would really like to teach my son as he grows up how to deal with negative emotions in a postive way. Also, having an open discussions with your kids at dinner table is also a way to get into their life and help them out with issues.



    April 2, 2010 at 9:23 am |
  24. lynn

    I hear on CNN that schools are accountable for stopping bullies, feeding children nutrittious meals, keeping them from dropping out, ensuring high test scores. As a teacher, I see a student for 47 minute4s per day and only when she/he is within a classroom fiilled with other students. Three or four minutes lapse between classes when I am busy preparing for the next wave. I deal with issues that occur, including bullying. and am offended by your guest generalizing that we do nothing. (Would you like for me to come on as a guest to talk authoritatively about her profession since I am highly qualiified in my own?) If your interview had been investigative or insightful it would have included these questions: How can we hold the schools acountable for all the nation's woes? How often does media attention contributte to these problems? When will the family /home EVER be held accountable for anything?

    April 2, 2010 at 9:23 am |
  25. Ruth Carter

    Hi Kyra: I am 71 year old lady and was terribly bullied all through elementary and high school, especially elementary. I was the only chlld, adopted, lived on a farm and had no protection.. I was terrorized, pushed into a creek with my new spring coat on, teased constantly, bike spokes kicked in, lies circulated, sexually threatened, clothes removed by older boys in the winter time and I had to walk home in my underwear........I could go on and on. If I had known about suicide at 7 or 8, I may have done it. I felt life was hopeless. I say to the bullies, "if you continue on this path, you may always be an undesirable person". I say to my kids and grandies, "do what I did, rise way above them, become as smart as you possibly can and skip grades, like I did". Most of my tormentors are now dead and I'm still here, thanks be to God for giving me the strength to overcome.

    April 2, 2010 at 9:24 am |
  26. Jo

    I TELL MY CHILDREN YOU ARE NOT ALONE! We as parents must be alot more proactive and involved. I absolutely am not blaming any of the parents or their children because they really are the victims HOWEVER if my child said to me that I am uncomfortable going to a friends house, church or school why would you let them go alone? We as parents should go to school with our children. Sit in every class with them..go to lunch with them. Sometimes bullies pick on kids because they dont believe those kids have anyone to help them and the kids feel that way too. I absolutely have gone to school all day long with my child when we thought there was an issue. I emailed not only the principal, teachers and superintendent of what I was doing but I also made the police aware. Because if I ever saw anyone hurting my child, I would beat their ____....even if it were another kid. No one hurts or touches my children. If you cant go to the school with your child, enlist the help of other family members or friends to go. The point is show your child that you always have their back and show the bullies and the school that they are not alone. Every school official that I've seen on your show has been defending why the school is innocent in all of this....its not their child being picked on and they are trying to keep a parents we should expect them to do anything...

    April 2, 2010 at 9:24 am |
  27. E. T. (Rusty) Palapo

    Bullying have no place in any educational institution. It is uncalled for
    and needs to cease. The main problem nowadays I think is that
    school administrators and parents have lost their control of the situation because of restrictions made by local laws, codes, etc.
    whereby the hands of those "in-charge" are tied, notwithstanding
    factors such as parents giving "baby-sitters" (nannies) most of their responsibilities because they have to go to work (both parents) inorder to have a better life.
    The U. S. of A. needs to go back to the old system of punishment
    and restrictions, repeal some of those laws that limit parents' and administrators' rule at home and in schools.

    April 2, 2010 at 9:26 am |
  28. Steve Perez

    Why is everyone so surprised at the hate displayed by school children toward their peers when examples of hate by their parents and political leaders fill the air waves every day? A political leader slaps a picture of N. Pelosi before a crowd; a grandmother carrying a picture of a monkey with the President's name under it; and on and on and on.

    April 2, 2010 at 9:26 am |
  29. Monty Maglinger

    Its no wonder that the world is becoming a thriving place for terrorists. It all started with the removal of discipline from schools...and then the parents. I am a well adjusted 52 year old male who was disciplined in school on a regular basis. I was mischievious and NEEDED to be paddled to keep me in line. Once I got home and my parents found out...I was whipped again.

    Years later...I raised my own children by the same strong hand of discipline. One is now a worship leader in a big church with kids of his own. The other is a beautiful stay-at-home mom.

    Discipline is not a bad thing. It provides structure and sets boundaries. Today...there is no respect for boundaries...and it shows. The world truly is going to hell in a hand basket. It it amazes me when the media is surprised by these reports of violence and intimidation.

    As a society...we have enabled it.

    April 2, 2010 at 9:26 am |
  30. Sherri

    The problem is alot of parents now days don't think their kids do anything wrong, it's always someone else's fault. When I was a child the schools ruled with an "iron hand" they were allowed to punish you if you got out of line & then you got punished again when you got home for getting into trouble at school.
    Parents need to step up and start parenting, it way overdo.

    April 2, 2010 at 9:26 am |
  31. Kelly

    I have a 12 year old with a mild mannered, gentle personality. We are very close and communicate well. He wouldn't bully because he wouldn't want someone to do it to him, but I know he is not the norm. I've even seen him stand up for someone else who was being picked on. Unfortunately, I have no confidence in the school systems and teachers with regard to bullying. I have a terrible fear that he would be miserable if he went to public school so even though there would also be benefits I'm currently not willing to risk it, so we homeschool.

    April 2, 2010 at 9:26 am |
  32. Daniel R. Martin

    Sometimes, unfortunately children have to retaliate inkind to a bully. When my chuildren were exposed to bullying I had them take lessons in the martial arts to develope confidence as well as being able to retaliate. In the meantime, I notified the school authorities and took an active role volunteering at the school where I was able to see what was going on. Afterwrds, the bullying subsided and my sons were looked p to by their peers.

    April 2, 2010 at 9:27 am |
  33. Robert

    Bullying – its been going on in public schools, since the beginning. The problem: teachers and admininstrators ignore it – completely. They are like everyone else – they want to come to work, do their job (teaching or admin'ing) and go home. They don't wants to take on another responsible for the extra chore to dealing with bullies. I hate to say it but the way it ends up usually is the target person has to "fight" the bully. And everyone just says its kids being kids. Now the evolution is the suicide. Don't just look at the suicides. Do a real investigation and you'll find bullying is prevasive. It just usually doesn't end in suicide. It end in fights, it promotes kids getting involved with gangs to have protection, it causes kids to become intriverted, and it causes suicide that is now the only thing making the news.

    April 2, 2010 at 9:27 am |
  34. Dan

    Rick, unfortunately your comment about suicide being final is incorrect. That is just the beginning of eternity. The hope of this weekend of Easter speaks volumes to this great hope.
    Happy Easter.

    April 2, 2010 at 9:27 am |
  35. tony

    when columbine happened all we heard and saw was the boys who did the shootings. why werent the bullies charged? why werent the bullies paraded on tv? why didnt we learn their names? the justice system failed. the media failed .maybe an ambush interview of the parents of bullies would be effective.

    April 2, 2010 at 9:27 am |
  36. Peggy

    As a Mom of 3 ,now grown, I have to say that I am angered by the fact that the principal knew about this a week before the suicide! A WHOLE WEEK, and did NOTHING to stop this! Imagine how that Mom feels. What a difference a week makes! Hope he can sleep at night. They keep saying, "Only a week!"

    April 2, 2010 at 9:28 am |
  37. Ruth Carter

    To Parents and Teachers: Make no mistake, not getting a handle on bullying in our society will mark the victims for life, in some way and a break down in everyones' lives, the neighbourhood, the country, the world. Where do you think terrorists originate? They are just bullies, undercover. Ruth

    April 2, 2010 at 9:32 am |
  38. Lenor

    When my 3rd grade son became a victim of bullying, I soon learned that the bully had repeatedly broken behavioral contracts and the school and his parents seemed powerless to stop the bullying behavior. I called the police and asked for the juvenile officer to meet me in the principal's office the next morning. After involving the police, everyone took the situation more seriously, and the bullying stopped. Their teacher made both boys co-stars of a class play so they had to cooperate with each other.

    April 2, 2010 at 9:34 am |
  39. Bryan Fried

    I was bullied daily as a child growing up in tough neighborhoods for being smart and unathletic. No amount or type of parental support mitigated the horror of this. Not until age 11 when I took up the martial arts at the feet of a kind and capable school teacher did my life begin to turn. This practice has continued to be my avocation for the last 44 years (for a living, I run two manufacturing companies based in LA). When my two sons were young, the very same issues came up with them. Frankly, it was only by similarly training were their challenges met.

    I feel that there is no substitute for a confidence building activity that also builds your body. For me, the solution has been the martial arts. For others, there are a myriad of additional options. The two requirements however, are inescapably linked. I have heard many "experts" on the subject and disagree with any who believe in anything to the contrary. I have been teaching classes to families (parents and children) to combat this problem for many years and have found this to be true 100% of the time. This dynamic has been going on forever and the only way to meet it is to strengthen BOTH mind and body to create the ability to resist these pressures. I have seen the failures of shortcuts and encouraging words alone. I hope these thoughts will help others to find what I believe is the only sure fire solution to this problem.

    April 2, 2010 at 9:35 am |
  40. Scott Stodden

    You say to your kids is not ok to pick on anyone, you say to your kids have respect for one another, you say to your kids don't be scared to tell someone and let your voice be heard, you say to your kid if anything is going on Im your best friend and you can tell me anything and yes even as a parent the parent can be like a bestfriend with parental authority because you don't want your children to be scared or afraid to talk about anything and everything that's going on, parents have to know what's going on and kids need to know they can talk to there parents about anything and everything that's going on and then you can also talk to other adult figues like your minister, friends, etc... Parent's have to have a role in there children's lives and weather you have good children or bad children its our duty to raise them, it starts with good parenting in the home and its not ok you know your child is mean and a bully to do nothing about it and its a shame this girl Phobe felt she had to take her life cuz she probably felt like I felt 14yrs ago or about that long when I was in High School and all throughout my school career I was teased all the time because Im gay and there were times I wanted to take my life and just it but I didn't Kyra and I graduated High School! I just know probably in a way how Phobe felt but why didn't the parents know she was even thinking killing herself and what did the school know about the person at school bullying Phoebe? This is where bullying starts at Kyra at home and then the school! I know I've been there and then if you have to get law enforcement involved you do them things but as a parent you should know or have that much knowledge to know your child is suicidal! I know cuz my parents were good parents they talked to me about anything and everything!

    Scott Stodden(Freeport,Illinois)

    April 2, 2010 at 9:36 am |
  41. Gail Peterson

    Hi Kyra,

    I was a school counselor for many years in Washington (now retired and taking care of the family apple orchard). Children are not interested in learning that 2 x 5 = 10 or any other academic pursuit when they are sad and/or angry - which, of course, is the result of being abused whether at home or at school. Bullying is a learned behavior and it can be "unlearned". To help children learn the consequences of their bullying, teachers need to be trained to keep an eye out and you need school counselors to be available daily to get these issues solved. I set up "Peace Corners" where children could get conflicts solved on their own and I also trained peer mediators who worked with younger children to solve conflicts. If the Peace Corner didn't produce positive change and the mediators didn't get the conflict solved, then I would help get it solved. When appropriate, I would enlist the principal and the parents. It was against the law (U.S. law, Washington State law and school district law) to NOT get the bullying addressed. Keep in mind, school shootings have mostly been traced back to acts of bullying. I'm hearing that the positions of school counselors are going to be cut as a result of school budget cuts. You cannot expect teachers to do this full-time job and still teach the required academic courses - especially when teachers are already putting in two or three more hours per day over their contractual requirements just to do their own job. What could be more important than our childrens' safety and their education? What could possibly be a more important place to put our tax dollars? Put the necessary resources into the schools!

    April 2, 2010 at 9:39 am |
  42. Eric Lopez

    A bully ultimately wants attention on his/her actions. The simple answer is to ignore bullies to the point where, in their mind, the bullies feel their efforts are pointless.
    Adults are responsible as well. This includes parents and school officials. The key is communication with the child to remind them of your presence and that suicide is not the answer because persistent bullying is a part of growing up and sooner or later those bullies will learn to feel good about themselves without having to lessen the quality of someone else's life.

    April 2, 2010 at 9:41 am |
  43. Erica

    On the issue of bullying I think that it IS a wide-spread issue. My brother started the 6th grade at a public school after completing a fundamental elementary school which has COMPLETELY different curriculum and requires MUCH more parent involvement than that of a public school. He is 12 but he is 5'7. So he's not short, nor fat nor any other physical stereo-type that there might be. But, since he started the 6th grade he has been bullied non-stop. We were both taught to tell 2 times and after the 3rd time, retaliate. He still has not retaliated. My mother went to the school and had a conference with the School officer, the principle and the bullying committee that the school offers. That did help to clear one of the bullying cases. However now he is dealing with another set of bullies. Its gotten to the point where now we have to file a city of St. Petersburg, Fl police report. We understand the teachers and staff cannot be all eyes all ears all the time, yet as time documents there is still a high percentage of bullying not only at my brothers middle school but also at other middle schools. I honestly think that there needs to be a way to actively STOP the bullying because this is why things like Columbine and West Virginia happened. Kids are pushed to the edge and are continuously told to ignore then they lash out.

    April 2, 2010 at 9:43 am |
  44. Larry Young

    The solution is easy and obvious. Let the bullies know that the police will be envolved, then make it happen! I'll never understand why schools are so hesitant to use the police, but they are. If the police are called in, the parents will get bothered and the parents will make it stop. Parents don't want to be bothered... Bullies have a leader. Work on the leader first.

    April 2, 2010 at 9:51 am |
  45. Stacy O'Connor

    I MUST respond to Lucinda Frank’s remarks that schools "don't do anything". This is NOT true for ALL schools. Please don't shift the blame for a societal problem to the schools! I work with middle school students.

    Here are a few observations I have made that make the problem difficult to deal with:

    1. Most bullying incidents in school occur out of the direct supervision of a teacher – for example – in the hallway – when 900 other students are also at their locker and walking to another class.
    2. Many students report that they do not want to be seen as a "snitch" to their peers. Reporting an incident puts them at risk of becoming a victim of the bully. Students who do report bullying incidents will specifically ask to remain anonymous.
    3. When students are in groups, even in a classroom, a group mentality will often take over. Yes – a teacher should address and report anything they observe, however, this group mentality can take over anywhere, including the bus stop, walking to and from school, or the bathroom at school. Who observes or reports it then?
    4. Many students who are bullies are bullied or abused at home. They are simply passing on the only thing they know. Do our schools really have the resources to deal effectively with the less than ideal circumstances that students have outside the classroom?
    5. Many adults, some teachers included, see bullying and teasing as a normal part of growing up. They may have been a victim or participated in a few incidents of bullying growing up. They don't understand the impact of CHRONIC bullying on the victim.
    6. Cell phones allowed in schools, e-mail, and social networks simply make it all worse with the opportunity to bully 24/7.

    The good news is that with limited resources, many schools are dealing with the problem and disciplining students who bully.

    Stacy O'Connor
    Arlington, VA

    April 2, 2010 at 9:52 am |
  46. Carolyn

    I experienced bullying some 40 years ago from a middle-school classmate. After repeatedly trying to follow my parents' advice to walk away or ignore it, I finally solved the problem for good after I got so angry about it that I pointed my finger in the face of my harasser and told her that very day I'd be looking for her after school–and off campus. By the time I'd decided to abandon civility altogether, I was so outraged at the continued insults, putdowns, and ridicule I'd suffered that I was more than ready to do her bodily harm, especially because it was so clear that none of my parents' well-meaning advice had helped. In fact, it had only caused the bullying to escalate. So that day after school, I went looking for the leader of these packhounds. Crossing the schoolyard and walking down the neighborhood street towards home, I spied the pack ahead of me, running like scared rabbits into the leader's house. As I passed the house, I saw all four of them peeping out through the curtain of the front window. I stopped and glared at them, and laughed out loud. What a revelation that was for me that day! Challenge the behavior, and the weak ego and cowardice at the heart of every bully is revealed. That day I learned something that has helped me every day of my life ever since: The Golden Rule does not apply when others mean to do you harm, so bullying MUST be challenged. It's the only way to make it stop. AND, it's up to everyone–not just victims–to "call out" such behavior whenever it's witnessed. Only then will responsibility for the bad behavior be put on the bully rather than the victim. Only then will it stop.

    I wish journalists would take the initiative on this issue to put the spotlight on the bullies, rather than the bullied. Profile them. We won't like what we see, because so often the bullies are the social elite in the communities they live in. And that schoolyard behavior carries forward into adulthood– including the workplaces we all have to work in.

    April 2, 2010 at 9:52 am |
  47. Katrina

    Your on the money Tony! the media spends too much time and effort in making the killer to be the devil and TOTALLY ignores WHY they did what they did. A person, and especially a child, can only take so much. Talk to your children about the finality of suicide and how that affects those who Love them. I think children don't really want to die. They just want what they are going through to stop. I think an ambush interview with the parents of bullying children is a super idea! Growing up, I found that some parents (Fathers especially), in their own hate and anger for the world, or trying to teach their boys to be tough and tumble, actually ENDORSED this behavior. No child wants to be a "Tattle tell" in a confined environment such as School but talk with your children about the benefits of that over suicide.

    April 2, 2010 at 9:59 am |
  48. Dean from Los Angeles

    It's not worth getting your gun and killing everybody

    April 2, 2010 at 10:00 am |
  49. Robert

    I think between the succeed at any measure mentality (prevalency of cheating on tests prevalency & lying on resumes for example) and the endless television programming of "judgement shows" like 'american idol' and 'wife swap' where sarcasm and hypercriticism are ratings and using parenting skills as a parlor game to say nothing of shows like 'jerry spring' where guests are made to line up to be verbally assaulted so much like the christians and the lions kind of reflect what is not being said at the very least. i remain shocked at companies like Facebook and Craigslist who were cited specifically by the district attorney in the Phoebe Prince case for the continued lack of cooperation in the case of a her murder and Yes, I say M-U-R-D-E-R as in they literally killed her spirit, her future, her hope to say nothing of taking a child from their parents, home and family. I say those tormentors and yes, their enablers (certainly the school's administration who by the way in the case of Ms. Prince-her former school recently had a workshop on behavior and ethics AFTER standing by while she was tormented to death-can they be MORE hypocritical? ) by way of their silence and lack of cooperation-they are the ones who put that rope around that kid's neck and tightened it everyday. I remain stunned beyond words by the actions of her fellow students that defaced Phoebe Prince's Facebook memorial page AFTER her suicide and remained relatively free to roam and hunt more victims in that school-I did forward the same sentiment to her former school questioning what the Senior Prom theme would be-"how to hate your neighbor to death and then dance on her grave"? I have urged the district attorney in writing regarding the Phoebe Prince incident because of their foreknowledge and lack of actions both during and after this death that the school and administration be likewise be held accountable by both criminal and civil charges.
    Sadly, it almost seems like the Massachusetts principal and administration approved via the adage of 'Silence Implies Agreement' and certainly would be first to stand up to accept responsibility if this was a question of one of their students being positively recognized in a national forum-why NOT be held accountable and be judged the same way they did to Phoebe Prince day after day after day ... ?

    April 2, 2010 at 10:02 am |
  50. Connor

    Considering that the partents don't wittness the bullying, the responsiblity should be put on the teachers who often times ignore kids who are bullied. As a sophomore in highschool I can honestly say that I see bulllying all the time, and it isn't easy to step up and say something about it. It's generally the more popular kids, or kids who have more self-confidence that do the bullying, to defend yourself only makes it worse. If you talk to a teacher about it, they often to little to nothing about it and if a teacher witnesses it, they also do little to nothing. This isn't because they don't care, I feel as though they would rather just not get involved.

    April 2, 2010 at 10:04 am |
  51. Barbara Swanson

    Adults must set an example to our children of how they should behave. We have had some very serious examples of bullying with adults lateley, Yelling racial slurs and spitting at Congressmen is bullying. Calling someone a baby killer is bullying and Rush Limbaugh saying on air to that the 11 year old child whose mother had died that she would have died anyway is bullying. And threats and rocks being thrown into public officials offices is bullying. Bullying must stop with those who are elected by the people and supposed to be working to make this country a better place for ALL.

    April 2, 2010 at 10:12 am |
  52. Lora

    How can you expect to teach children to be respectful of their peers when in the current climate of our country there is no respect between political parties? I am ashamed to watch some of the things that are said in Congress and such. How do I explain to my children that it is not okay to act like that when our "leaders" seem to show that it is okay? There is no respect of each other and their opinions. There is no respect of the President. There was a time when the President was respected as this nation's leader, period. You may not agree with everything that he says and does but as you respect your parents and their decisions, the President was respected also. Not so now. Shame on the political leaders for acting such ways. Surely there are other ways to express your opinion without demeaning and fighting with your opposition. I always tell my children that you can't always get what you want in life. Sometimes you need to relent in order for our society to remain off of that edge that we are teetering on, civility.
    Teachers and school officials are also being held accountable for the bullying although the control has been taken out of the schools by parents. Parents expect the schools to keep their children safe but they do not want to know or allow anything be done when their children are the aggressors.

    April 2, 2010 at 10:13 am |
  53. Donna dunson

    A major language shift needs to take place. to call this behavioir "bullying" makes the behavior seem childlike; Call is what it is: harressement!

    Middle School kids learned this behavior from the adults around them and in the culture-at large. Take a look at the prevailing images: MTV, BET, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Riley, Reality
    TV, Fox,, sometimes MSNBC and CNN.

    Come on, they are a reflection of what they see around them. The good news is the vast majority of middle schoolers want to do the right thing.

    Ah, the life of a middle school principal-if adults recapture civility, the kids will follow.

    April 2, 2010 at 10:17 am |
  54. ubon

    I totally sympatize with this young beautiful girl who hung herself due to bullying. I came to the U.S. In 2001 and I experienced bully first hand. As the only black kid in most of my classes my class mates will make fun of me, hit books out of my hands, reject me from groups, I was constantly pushed around to a point that I had to avoid using the school bus. This is a public outcry & our school system needs to take swift action cause kids will continue to self-harm due to bully.

    April 2, 2010 at 10:27 am |
  55. MC

    If you wait until high school to show kids this is wrong it is way too late. Young children are more likely to understand the hurt caused and not want to do that to others. Just don't let this turn into "they were treated badly and that why they do it to others."

    April 2, 2010 at 10:35 am |
  56. Jessica Craig

    Recently my son has fallen victim to bullying on the school bus. They continuously call him raced names among other things. I contacted the school principal immediately and I was reassured that they have zero tolerance for this kind of behavior and that it would be taken care of. What surprises me is that the bus driver had not reported this blatant behavior. I am relieved that my son felt comfortable enough to come to me with this problem and not hide it. Although the school is addressing the matter it will fall short if the child is not reprimanded and educated in the home on respecting others.

    April 2, 2010 at 10:49 am |
  57. nancy

    schools dont care anymore my child was bullied fir being big for a year and a half i went to the school so many times a cant count and than everytime something went wrong at school they blamed my kid i had to but mine in therapy and move my child to another school and not one problem seens school started this past year that other school just got mad because one of the boys was the vice principle son and i really dont think they did anything to those bullies at the other school and i think that what wrong with kids these days nobody does anything when they do something bad

    April 2, 2010 at 11:07 am |
  58. carol

    My son tried to commit suicide because of bullying (verbal and physical for years) despite many meetings with teachers and administration over our concerns. He has mild autism which makes him "different." When he would try to protect himself (something as simple as trying to push them off of him), he would serve school suspensions right along with the perpretators due to black and white rules. My son is not a violent person and was not considered a behavioral problem. Yet he somehow "paid" for being a victim everytime. Some teachers knew bullying was happening. Of course it was denied and efforts from the district to cover themselves even resulted in a reference in my son's school file as "he imagined the bullying." At our request (and from his doctor) the district is now paying for my son to attend another school.

    April 2, 2010 at 11:12 am |
  59. MC

    Stop making excuses for bad behavior by saying they were "abused." This has been overused and detracts from people who were actually abused and made the decision NOT to behave the same way to others. Schools should not be the primary place for children to learn morality however those terachers and administrator should be examples for the students. It seems people are especially cruel. It isn't teasing about wearing glasses or braces anymore. Its vicious attacks on and humilation of the victims.

    April 2, 2010 at 11:44 am |
  60. Timothy

    The code of silence within adolesence is similar to the law of omerta in organized crime. Exposing such criminal behavior, more often than not, came in the form of wearing a wire.

    If these tortured children knew to carry something as simple as a voice recorder it would at least give them a sense of empowerment. Many might still remain silent, such is the angst, the self conscience embarresment of adolecence. Although if it came down to suicide or using this tool as a cry for help I would think it couind it could save lives and unnessesary anguish.

    Teach kids how to utilize the tools they need to survive, isn't that what school is for? Empowerment is merely a feel good word until it has substance behind it.

    April 2, 2010 at 11:46 am |
  61. Angry Teen

    Along with my beloved brother, a victum to Autism, I too have attempted suicide many times. Why? Bullying. I have post tramatic stress disorder, and other anxiety disorders. Up until my freshman year in highschool, I had no friends and was physically and verbally abused almost everyday. Nothing was done. Yes, I spoke up. I spoke up for my brother's sake, and have gotten into physical fights to defend him. I'm not a dangerous person, but mess with my brother and youv'e got something coming to you.

    It continues today, and now I am homebound, away from my friends and a social enviornment. I blame my peers and certain teachers behaviors. They're lack of understanding is the cause of my anxiety attacks, which causes me to faint. These people, in what I considered my home, drama club, spread horrible rumors about me 'sleeping around' and 'fainting because of drugs and attention', too where my family and I have made the decistion to transferr schools.

    The theatre was my home, the only thing that kept me going, and they destroyed it. My only escape from the horrible and tormenting things in my mind that I can't help. They called me horrible names, and talked bad about me 'secretly' too my face! Did the kids doing this to me get in trouble? No. They didn't even get a detention. Nothing. My school's director even DEFENDED them, saying her precious drama students could do no wrong!

    The school's admisistration, both mine and this one in Massachusetts, make me sick. Be the bigger person and admitt you could have done more! How can you sit idley by and watch a 15 year old girl be so mistreated, and do nothing about it! This poor girl was subjected to complete and utter tyranny. ALL of you!, including the district and peers, should be SO ashamed of yourselves! I hope you're right with your Jesus, it's all downhill from here.

    I feel Phoebe's pain, I've been down her road SO many times. Have gotten so close to her fate.. And it's all because of people LIKE YOU! I hope those kids who think they're so cool, by picking on people and having this 'oh-so accepted behavior', definately feels it now, because only someone heartless can obtain pleasure from this!

    I myself am 15 years old, and can't STAND to here stories like mine. This needs to stop. In God's eyes, we're all the same. NO ONE, is beneath or above you, nor anyone else.

    April 2, 2010 at 11:53 am |
  62. maze1gerald

    I have a16 year old daughter who is in high school ,I always tell her to let me know about any thing that might come up about bullying ,if it comes up I would take it up with the school ,admistrators if nothing is done I will take it to the school board,I don't like lax admistrating, I'm the type that won't leave it alone or I wantt to see some heads roll,to other parents do'nt be lax don't leave it alone.make em earn their pay .

    April 2, 2010 at 12:43 pm |
  63. Curt

    Here is a simple way to stop a kid from bullying your child: Hire an Attorney and file a civil suit against the Parents of the bully(s) and the School district for "harassment" and seeking monetary damages. Make sure to carefully document all the events, collect any evidence (Facebook an excellent source for example,) and line up witnesses. This you will be able to use in your case against the Parents of the bully and possibly the school system itself. itself.

    April 2, 2010 at 1:13 pm |
  64. timetoact

    60% of boys identified as bullies by grades 6-9 have one criminal conviction by the time they're 24. 40% have three or more convinctions by the time they are 24.

    Today's bullies are tomorrow's spousal abusers, child abusers and criminals. They need to be on police radar NOW. These bullies get worse, not better with time.

    I wouldn't expect a child or even a school to deal with these criminals-in-training. Bullying, in whatever form it takes - physical assault, stalking, harassment, etc - needs to be taken directly to law enforcement.

    Enabling these bullies by encouraging the victim to "just deal with it" is doing no one a favor. That's a non-solution that backfires every time.

    April 2, 2010 at 7:24 pm |
  65. Gurpreet

    Being an Indian who was a freshman in high school when 9/11 attacks occurred, kids used to bully me a lot. "Terrorist, get out of my country!" are some of the things they would say. They would spread rumors that I was going to blow myself up in class. Hurtful things. Since I was only 15, like Phoebe, it hurt me and at that time of my life I did have suicidal thoughts. I filed a "harassment form" at my school but nothing was done. I talked to my dad and asked him to go to the school and help me, he told me something I will never forget. "The kids that are bullying you are weak and frustrated with their lives, they are taking it our on you. Take their frustration and turn it into power" This resonated with me for the rest of my life. The bullying made me a stronger individual. I was ridiculed and harassed in my early high school days but I truly blocked it out.
    Phoebe's story saddens me because that was, at one point the path I was going to take, however my Dad saved me, not because of him talking to the school administration, filing civil suits against the parents, but rather dealing with my issues head on and making me become a stronger person to deal with terrible bullying. Parents need to help make their children stronger individuals, in my opinion.

    April 2, 2010 at 10:49 pm |
  66. Jay CHARVAT (ex South Africa)

    Bullying n the US Schools are way out of control compared to other countries such as the UK, South Africa, Singapore, Saudia Arabia for examples – these are very minor incidents and such kinds of extreme bullying simply does not exist the way it does here. Kids here in the US are allowed too much and think they can work around whatever school policies exist. The mindset of bullies are "If I can't get you in the classroom, I'll get you online – or find a weakness and intimidate you with your friends/peers". Families need to be more involved with their children. Period!

    April 3, 2010 at 8:17 am |
  67. Tony

    School Bullying is a part of the norm in the school system everywhere. As an educator for several years, I blame the school boards around the country for not doing enough to resolve the problem. Instead they take the easy road out everytime. For example, the accused parents only have to show up at the school board meetings and gang up on the board and th board cave in, thus leaving the problem unresolved. Parents of bullies are themselves bullies – just take a look at them when they come in to defend their children. To deal with the bully is to expell them permanently from school and charged them with a crime – maybe then they will have a wake up call.

    As a kid myself, I had to take it in my own hands to fight back and show the bullies that I was not afraid of them and the problem stop. However, I am not advocating fighting back, but use the local press to address the issue and bring pressure on the local school board.

    Tony in VA

    April 3, 2010 at 8:24 am |
  68. Charlotte Goodson

    While you are talking about what parents should say to their bullied kids, how about addressing the parents of the bullies? I went through a brief period in 5th grade where I taunted a kid. My parents let me know that it was unacceptable.

    April 3, 2010 at 8:30 am |
  69. arlyn s

    Schools are under tremendous legal pressure to DO NOTHING about on-site bullying. Any effective action that school staff could take to "modify" the bullies behavior would most certainly be met with legal action by the bully's parents. Regardless of the lack of merit of this legal action, the expense of fighting it would crush any school. School staff is heavily incentivized toward negligence. By "protecting" everyone you protect no one.

    April 3, 2010 at 8:34 am |
  70. William

    My daughter has been a victim of a group of girls that have been bullying her since she started at a new school. Over the past months, she has been physically and verbal harassed. When I approached the school administration they basically said the ringleader of the group was a popular girl and would be talked to about her behavior through a mediation process. The guidance counselor also said, "not much could be done", which didn't sit too well with me.

    My daughter, like many other young adolescents, turned her problems at school inward and "put on a happy face" just to get through the day. At times, she was so overwhelmed with the situation that she didn't want to go to school to face the bullies. I felt very powerless considering it's the school's responsibility to protect children while at school. It got to the point that I was seriously contemplated hiring an attorney.

    Eventually, I went over the school administration to the superintendent. I made it very clear that the state of Ohio had "bullying laws" in place and that I was upset with how the school principal and guidance counselor handled the situation. The same day I got a telephone call from the school complaining to me that I went to the district administration and "caused troubled for the school". Now, they wanted to know what more the school could do for me by telling me about other options to combat the bullying. Really? Now that the problem has been on-going for almost 4 months you now miraculously found more rights to exercise?

    It got to the point that my daughter was driven deeper into depression and began to journal about suicide. My wife and I intervened and decided to seek the help of a mental health professional. The bullying situation seems to be simmering down, but it took a great deal of pain in trying to pressure the school to get anything done. It seems the administrators don't want to "get their hands dirty" in stamping out bullying problems. In my daughter's experience, the school just gave the bullies a little slap on the wrist and hoped the problem went away. It doesn't and when the bullies know they can get away with it, they will continue with their harassment.

    April 3, 2010 at 8:38 am |
  71. Sandra Hughes

    The bully needs attention, caring and love. By focusing only on the victim, you reinforce the idea that there is something that the victim needs to change. By punishing the bully you say "It is wrong to bully someone for whatever reason." and the implication is that there could be a reason. This reinforces the opinion of the bully, perpetuating the damage already caused.

    We need to reach out to the bullies, talk to their friends and say we are worried about the bully, that they are in trouble. They need help because they are so unhealthy, mentally, that one way they can feel good about themselves is to make others feel bad. The bully is in such pain inside that they strike out in fear and anger, in a misdirected attempt to punish someone. If they are truly the bully's friends they will step in and get them some help.

    In a nutshell this approach would be far more effective at addressing the issue of stopping the bullying. AS the saying goes, THOSE THAT ARE HARDEST TO LOVE, NEED IT THE MOST.

    April 3, 2010 at 8:52 am |
  72. MRT

    Great piece.
    Im not a CNN regular but this is an important topic and it seems to be a growing problem.
    There have always been bullies, but the tools available now are far more destructive.
    Good work CNN

    April 3, 2010 at 9:00 am |
  73. arlyn s

    Sure, if you perceive that your kid is being unfairly being singled out (bullied), lawyer up and sue the school and the parents and anyone else you can think of. That's how the bully's parents keep their spawn from suffering any kind of consequences for their actions. They also honestly feel that they are genuine victims.

    Political Civility – So...for 8 years George W. Bush was trash-talked daily in every form of media. Why? Because He-Is-Dumb-And-He-Talks-Funny. Does this form of reasoning sound familiar? Oh yeah, it's from the 7th grade lunch table! Now the Tea Party and Rush are instantly responsible for a "hostile tone"?!?! There is NO moral high ground in the current state of political discourse. It is not going to get any better until EVERYONE "takes the cure" and cleans up their personal tone.

    April 3, 2010 at 9:35 am |
  74. Sue

    I agree with Curt. Be your child's advocate.

    Also, when talking with your child, please, please, PLEASE, never say things like, "that boy is teasing you because he likes you." (do you want to teach your daughter that verbal abuse = love?" "Don't let them see you cry." (You are weak and are bringing it on yourself.) And NEVER, EVER tell your child to feel sorry for the person who is bullying them.

    Bullying is CHILD ABUSE!! And it needs to be treated as such. Would you feel sorry for the thug on the street who beat and robbed you?

    Let your child know, in no uncertain terms, that it is the bullies who are defective and in the wrong. If your child is being assaulted, get the police involved and have the kid arrested. If it is verbal abuse, let the school know that your child can not learn in a hostile environment. And name names.

    Bullies made my life hell from 6th grade through graduation, at 48, I still have no self esteem. They don't have to drive your kid to suicide to destroy their life.

    April 3, 2010 at 9:52 am |
  75. Davis Gloff

    It's amazing that no one has thought of this.. The parents of bullies need to be brought up on charges of criminal negligence. They need to be awarte of the bullying and stop it. We feel bad for the children, and say awful things about the schools when the root cause is the parents of the bullies.
    A bully's parents need to discover the consequences of not knowing or not caring that their children are bullies. They should have their children talken from them, and they should be thrown in jail and fined,.

    April 3, 2010 at 10:41 am |
  76. Derek

    I had, like many other kids, been bullied during my years in school.
    As hard as it was at the time, it made me a stronger person. This is not a new issue, and it won't be going away anytime soon. Parents need to have communication with their children, and my belief is there were other issues at hand before the victims decided upon suicide as a solution.

    April 3, 2010 at 11:21 am |
  77. Memphis Hearts

    What happen to Phoebe is tragic! My heart goes out to the family! I have a 10yo son and he has been bullied, called gay, hit, shoved, slapped and the teachers and principals are not doing much about it. They tell him to stay away from the bully but why does he need to be the one to take action...why does the victimizer continue to do what they do to the kids! No one seems to be talking about counseling for the bullier...everyone seems to focus on the children that are the victims and what they should say and do....that's not right! Wake up teachers and administers our kids need your help while they are under your care. I don't send my child to school to be victimized. I love my son and I show and tell him how much I love him everyday! He communicates with me but there will come a point where he will think I am not doing enough because teachers and principles are not doing there part while I am at work! I don't want to shelter my child but enough is enough and before something terrible happens ...pulled him out and I'm homeschooling him. No one needs to suffer a tradegy like the latest victims and my hurt aches for all the families that think they have to suffer and weather the storm!

    April 3, 2010 at 2:51 pm |
  78. Megan

    Unfortunately school yard bullies grow up, graduate, get jobs and become work place bullies. Bullying in the work place is real, pervasive, and is allowed to flourish largely checked by management and human resources.

    April 3, 2010 at 5:04 pm |
  79. Karen MacDonald

    I am a martial artist and have been studying karate for about 25yrs. 10 yrs. ago I met Dr. Terrence Webster Doyle. The author of many wonderful books and programs dedicated to helping young people manage conflict. I use his books and curriculum in my karate classes to teach kids. I split the class up half "mental martial arts" and half physical martial arts. Dr. T's programs focus on the "ARM" approach. A-avoidance stage, R-Resolve stage and M-management stage. Not many programs focus on the avoidance stage, which is the first step! The kids have roleplays and activities to take them through potential bullying situations. I have seen the kids I teach transform in to confident peaceful individuals. Dr. T's programs work so well, that I have been asked to come back and teach at a Santa Rosa school for the fourth year in a row! These programs have not only helped the kids I teach, but have even helped me with my life in so many ways!

    April 5, 2010 at 8:32 pm |
  80. Kathy

    There are some great self-defense instructors in our world! Dr. Terrence Webster-Doyle and his Bully Buster System are a great example. His program teaches Safe Options Self-Defense (S.O.S) steps that are practical and work! You actually practice the stages of self-defense- from understanding why people ‘bully’, how to avoid being bullied, how to walk away from a bully with confidence, and finally how to physically defend yourself. Search your area for martial arts schools that offer defense training programs; not just tournament fighting. Knowing how to physically defend yourself gives you that confidence not to fight. Dr. Terrence Webster-Doyle’s books and programs are available at major book stores everywhere. Finally, parents and teachers please listen and pay attention to what’s going on in the lives of the children that you are responsible for. It takes a community to raise a good citizen.

    April 5, 2010 at 11:12 pm |
  81. Pamela Burns Child Advocate 22+ years

    I hope we haven't lost interest or attention to bullying in schools. A resolution to this nation-wide decade long problems is not as complicated as one might think. Bullying by other children or adults that escalates to an emotional issue (for example a child who simply can't go to school, or is exhibiting behavioral changes) is considered ABUSE. At that point ALL school personnel are mandated reporters of Child Abuse, as are parents and even children may call the hotline and express concern. These calls are supposed to be anonymous and are usually directed to a hotline maintained by either the State's Department of Child Services or a Division of Law Enforcement. Given the level of escalation in this case, an investigation should have been opened immediately.
    As for why the Public School did nothing? there is an epidemic level (mostly secret) of abuse in public schools that has been escalating since 2000. Prior to Federal Law No Child Left Behind being passed, the first study of abuse in public schools was ordered. The Secretary of Education did not like it so it was basically ignored.
    Bottom line: Public Schools are in defensive mode, some more than others. In my opinion as an Advocate who works exclusively with children attending public schools, those that Administrate schools (school boards, superintendents, school board attorneys and Administrators who have nothing to do with children are more concerned with two things: First, their REPUTATIONS, and second, their LIABILITY. If you look at public schools beyond the one your child/children attend, and see them as an INSTITUTION, an institution that has failed or is failing – like BANKS, CAR COMPANIES, etc., when the fault is their own doing, the first blamed is the consumer or the student. And in this case, they are blaming students for not learning which doesn't even make sense since it is their job to teach students how to learn.
    Next time your child is bullied and it escalates, you notify the school and "they say not my job" call the Abuse Hotline. Let an impartial group investigate, one that knows both
    Federal and State Education Laws, and those that define child abuse.

    April 6, 2010 at 1:27 pm |
  82. Pat K.

    There's much discussion about who's to blame – the bullies, the teachers, the school system, but I don't hear any talk of blaming, at least in part, the parents of the bullies. As long as the kids are minors, I hold their parents to account for their behavior. The parents of bullies should be getting a lot more scrutiny.

    April 7, 2010 at 8:29 am |
  83. denise lauzon

    My daughter was a very shy child in primary school but when she started High school in Arts Concentration she started for the first time to enjoy herself. However on her third year in that school, she was part of a group of boys and girls and the leader of that group turned against my daughter and convinced the others that she had to get out of the gang. The two following years became the worst nightmare: she would be insulted, she had nobody to talk to, she would spend the recess and lunch time either in the toilet area or standing in front of her locker. The fifth year of the High school she made new friends and was able to finally get on with her life. Now she is a popular DJ and she's very much in charge of her life but she admitted one day that the experience of being bullied for 2 years left a deep scar in her. When we know that some kids start to be bullied in primary school and that it continues all the way to High school, it's not surprising that some of them decide to commit suicide.

    It's important to say that lots of kids get bullied but it's important to mention that the others who witness the bullying develop a certain anticipation that one day it could happen to them. In that sense the fear factor operates on them as well. Once in while I had to go to the school that my daughter attended and I could feel the devensive mode that existed inside the school and in the school yard.

    See the solutions to conteract bullying on my previous post.

    April 7, 2010 at 8:42 am |
  84. denise lauzon

    These last years, there's been an increase awareness about the importance of keeping the kids at school more active physically. In some schools it's been decided that the kids would spend more time in the gymnasium. I agree with all that effort of helping the kids to be in a better shape but I say to myself that if there would be as much awareness and determination to help the kids to become in a better shape mentally and psychologicaly that it would be the greatest accomplishement that the schools could achieve.There is so many books that have been written on psychology and it would be wonderful if all the knowledge accumulated on that subject would be used to put in place a special program, adapted to the different levels, aimed at helping the kids to achieve their full potentiel in the art of COMMUNICATION. The school authorities are not aware of the need that the kids have to learn to interact with their peers, not only about the academic but most of all on subjects that concern them directly and indirectly. If they would be given the chance to COMMUNICATE thru different activities that would promote and celebrate the differences and the joy of exchanging their points of view, we would allow those human beings to raise to a new level of awareness and well being. I dream of a school where kids would take pleasure in discussing intelligently on all kinds of subjects, where the verbal would be encouraged, where kids would always wish the best for everyone. With such an approach, there would be no need for being defensive or offensive and there would be no place for bullying.

    In order to bring the kids to succeed academicaly, different rules have been put in place to keep the kids apart from each other and the most important has been to impose the silence. All that system of rules is in big part responsible for the bullying taking place in schools. How can you respect and appreciate a person if you don't have the chance to speak to her (him)?

    April 7, 2010 at 11:01 pm |
  85. Kat

    Thanks for the interesting interview with Maggie, the mother of a former bully. Since I switched to CNN in the middle of the interview, I did not catch the family setting this boy grew up in. Where is the father? Often times, you see bullying children with low self esteem come from a family background that is not ideal, without an strong father figure in the picture. My husband and I teach our daughter how to respect others and have enrolled her into martial arts where her instructor heavily focuses on respect, integrity and other crucial values. These values are followed at home and at school. I strongly encourage any parents of either bullies or children that are being bullied to enroll their children into martial arts. Speak to instructors about the issues your child is facing and just give it a try. You may be surprised when you see the results.

    April 8, 2010 at 9:58 am |
  86. Jennifer

    I'm surprised to not hear more from you about conflict management programs for schools. When my son was in 3rd grade in 1990, his very enlightened teacher got training to introduce a conflict resolution program into his school district. He was among a handful of kids trained with role playing etc, and sent out on the playground with orange t-shirts to monitor and nip bullying in the bud. Only a community-based, peer-oriented approach will work - really, punishment for low self-esteem is so old school, the behavior must be prevented instead. Thanks.

    April 8, 2010 at 10:36 am |
  87. Denise Lauzon

    One man who was invited on your program and I think he is a principal of a school. He said very clearly that the bullies have low self esteem and I agree with him 100%. Once we know that, solutions have to be put in place to help those students to change the situation in order for them to boost their self esteem and from that, things should improve.

    See my previous posts to check the kind of activities that would benefit all the kids in schools to improve their self esteem and at the same time find fulfillment. It's as easy as that but would any teacher or any school's authority be willing to try it?

    April 8, 2010 at 8:40 pm |